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If a Mediterranean, Adriatic, or Baltic cruise is on your 2012 travel wish list, check out the $1,776 July 4th sale fares now being offered by Windstar Cruises (must be booked by July 6). Windstar, which operates three tall-masted luxury ships – 312-passenger Wind Surf and 148-passenger Wind Star (shown at left in Greece) and Wind Spirit – has lowered fares on 20 European voyages sailing from mid-July to mid-November (with some fall voyages priced as low as $1,476 and December Caribbean voyages priced from $976).
I have cruised around Europe extensively and have sailed on both Wind Star and Wind Surf. If, like me, you prefer smaller ships to the behemoths, you’ll enjoy the intimate ambiance, wonderful service, superb cuisine, and easy camaraderie that these ships offer. Here are few of my recommendations for itineraries among those on sale until July 6:
The Greek islands have sounded their siren call to maritime-minded adventurers since the days of Homer, topping the list of the world’s great sailing destinations from ancient times through present day. The isles offer stunning beaches, crystal-clear seas, world-class nightlife, lip-smacking eateries, and worthwhile shops – and island-hopping from the comfort of a cruise ship makes it possible to thoroughly sample their bounty with absolute ease. Consistently featured on some of the most coveted cruise itineraries on the high seas, the popularity of the Greek isles during the high season months of summer is illustrated by suffocating crowds and inflated costs for cruise bunks, boutique booty, and everything in between. Having just completed a shoulder season autumn sailing to the Greek isles (aboard the sleek sailing yachts of Windstar; read on to nab discounted fares for sailings with them in spring 2012), I’ve rounded up some firsthand tips on the pros and cons of crafting your own custom-tailored, cost-effective, crowd-reducing Greek island odyssey à la shoulder season in spring (March and April) or fall (September and October). Read more
The sleek sailing yachts of Windstar readily capture the imagination of adventurous travelers with seafaring souls – billowing white sails crown the line’s intimate ships, vessels small enough to allow access to some of the world’s most delightful hidden harbors and off-the-path ports. The small-ship cruise company (Wind Surf, the largest of the trio in Windstar’s fleet has just a 312-passenger capacity) touts subtle luxuries without the pretense: Seamless service and ample amenities meet a laid-back atmosphere and refreshingly casual dress code onboard (no need to concern yourself with froufrou formal wear here). Fewer passengers translate to a streamlined cruise experience devoid of lines or huddled masses, particularly refreshing when transferring to and from ports of call, while Windstar ships manage to still allot generous onboard diversions, with a spa, casino, and signature water sports platform amongst the highlights. Read more
Does sailing off into the Mediterranean sunset under billowing white sails sound like a head-in-the-clouds fantasy? Well, go ahead and turn that tall tale into your very own reality this fall (and beyond) onboard the sumptuous sailing yachts of Windstar Cruises. Happily, we’ve pinned down refreshingly down-to-earth rates on a duo of shoulder-season autumn sailings, as well as uncovered a special promotion for those looking ahead to their 2012 vacation planning. Read more
Windstar Cruises has a new captain. Purchased by Xanterra Parks and Resorts on May 25, the cruise line will be “financially stronger and well-positioned for long-term profitability and success,” according to Hans Birkholz, Windstar CEO. It will also maintain its customer programs and policies, as well as honor Windstar fares and reservations (including charter contracts). Windstar’s three-ship fleet sails to nearly 50 nations with 100 ports throughout Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Its smaller two yachts carry just 148 guests, providing an intimate onboard experience, while its largest ship accommodates 312 guests. With a history of outstanding hospitality dating back to 1876 (with the Fred Harvey Company), Xanterra intends to continue Windstar’s legacy of “exceptional luxury travel experiences and the highest level of service.”
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